Diabolic Intent – Batman Rogues Gallery

A Sampler Platter of Evil

Welcome back to Diabolic Intent, where we build decks around iconic villains and their diabolical schemes! This article is a little different from previous installments, though. Building our Joker deck got me brainstorming a few more deck ideas for that fantastic suite of foes Batman has faced over the years, so I decided to write them all up into their own article! Here they are!


Two-Face – Coin Flips

Yeah, yeah, no surprises here. “Two-Face”, or The-District-Attorney-Formerly-Known-As-Harvey-Dent, is notable for flipping a coin before making any big decision, these decisions usually being whether or not to shoot someone in the head. Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom and Okaun, Eye of Chaos are the obvious commander choices, but if we were wanting to dip a little deeper into Two-Face’s “justice of randomness” philosopy, we could splash black for some stuff like Raving Dead and Vial Smasher the Fierce.

Also, the deck would notably NOT be running Krark’s Thumb, because that would not be FAIR.


The Riddler – Sphinxes

Edward Nigma enjoys a) committing crimes, and b) riddling. Sphinxes also love riddling, so they’ll give us plenty of ways to leave clues for Batman.

While Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign is by far the most popular commander choice for Sphinx tribal (he loves to write and hand out little Fact or Fiction-style riddles for his Sphinx subordinates), we might consider going with someone like Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign since Esper gives us access to a few more riddles of our own like Brilliant Ultimatum and Deliver Unto Evil. Esper also lets us play Sphinx Sovereign and Sphinx of the Steel Wind for their sick riddle-themed flavor text.


The Penguin – Equipment/Bird Tribal

This guy has two signatures, and they’re both pretty weird. The first is his collection of umbrellas, which distinguish themselves from regular umbrellas by shooting fire, hypnotizing people, and letting him fly. While there are a few Equipment cards that transform, such as Elbrus, the Binding Blade and Dowsing Dagger, Neglected Heirloom is the only Equipment card that transforms into another Equipment, in the same way the original subject transforms from an umbrella into an umbrella with a gun in it. And as long as we’re talking Equipment, we’re gonna need some Cobbled Wings for Oswald Cobblepot.

His second signature is his love of birds. It comes up a lot less frequently than the umbrella thing, which is kind of appropriate considering how infrequently anyone ever brings up Bird Tribal. We do have a few options, though (Keeper of the Nine Gales is kind of fun), and this deck could probably hold its own playing fliers and giving them cool gadgets.


Poison Ivy – Plants/Landfall

I could hardly make this deck anything but mono-green after Mark Rosewater himself called out Poison Ivy as a green villain. It makes a lot of sense, given her goal of protecting and preserving nature, not to mention her affinity for giant plant creatures.

As a quick side note, I realized that I haven’t really featured any green villains in this series, and I’m not sure whether that’s due to my personal aversion to green, or the fact that green’s gameplan is fairly straightforward and doesn’t usually lend itself to elaborate villain scheme shenanigans (the latter could also be the cause of the former). Case in point, this deck slaps down dudes, plays lands, then makes ’em big dudes. I promise I’ll do a full feature on a more interesting green-aligned villain, but this particular build does fit really well.


Ra’as al Ghul – Reanimator Auras

Well, whaddya know, another green villain! Ra’as al Ghul aspired to restore the world’s environmental balance, usually by wiping out humanity with some sort of bioweapon. His endeavors spanned several centuries with the aid of the Lazarus Pits, which could keep him young and murderous as long as he could get to one while he was dying.

While Krond the Dawn-Clad can’t be the commander of a deck with Fool’s Demise in it, his need to “recover his full strength” with an Aura after resurrecting makes him great in the 99. We’d probably want Rafiq of the Many to pilot a Voltron deck in these colors, especially with his kind of Ra’as-ish facial hair.


Catwoman – Stealy Rogues

I waffled on making this a Cat deck, but Arahbo, Roar of the World is kind of our only option for Cat decks, and Catwoman doesn’t have a single white or green bone in her body. Magic‘s suite of Rogues showcase her heisting talents purrfectly (sorry/not sorry). We’d run all these alongside a bunch of ways to make them unblockable, probably under Sygg, River Cutthroat.


Victor Zsasz – Death Tallies

This guy’s kind of low on the Gallery Totem Pole, but his gimmick makes for an interesting deck. Zsasz is known for carving a tally mark on his body for every person he kills, and there are quite a few cards that can functionally “track our kills” by adding up counters as creatures die. Ob Nixilis Unshackled could be a fun commander for this deck, especially with all the cool scarring he’s got already. The strategy would mainly be to run symmetrical sacrifice effects like Plaguecrafter and Fleshbag Marauder to maximize the deaths that our “tracker” creatures see, rather than board wipes.


Bonus Team Up


Scarecrow and Clayface – Scareclones

So neither of these guys really work for a deck on their own, but Clayface’s identity theft and Scarecrow’s looking like a scarecrow come together to make something really fun here. Since there aren’t really enough Scarecrow cards for Reaper King to realistically use (there are a few; Scarecrone is kind of a neat one), we can make up the difference with clones! Spark Double is especially fun because it lets us copy Reaper King for bonus triggers. Of course, any Jonathan Crane deck will need some fear-related mechanics, so the deck will run plenty of ways to give creatures fear and intimidate, and although clones don’t necessarily synergize with those keywords, our Scarecrow friend Scuttlemutt is here to help out.


Bonus Other Thing


Calendar Man – Holidays or Something

For anyone who hasn’t read The Long Halloween, they tried to rebrand Calendar Man as this creepy Hannibal Lecter type figure, which only works as long as you can forget that the person that Batman is talking to is freaking Calendar Man. Anyway, he likes to do crimes on important calendar dates, so look at that: we’ve got Halloween, Easter, and Memorial Day. Run the holiday promos if you’re really that committed to making a freaking Calendar Man deck. Honestly, I put this in because my friend dared me to include Calendar Man, and I couldn’t just say no, for some reason. Are you happy now, Steven?

That’s all I’ve got! Do you have any cool deck ideas for other Batman villains? Were there any that you felt that I totally butchered or really nailed? Do you have any ideas for cards or strategies that these decks could run? Let me know! Also, vote on the next villain!

Amos has been playing Magic since OG Innistrad, where in his first ever draft pack he passed a shiny Grimgrin for a Corpse Lunge. He hails from the icy wastes of Vermont, where he enjoys hunting Warhammer players on his dogsled and watching movies. You can follow his Tweeter at @Byrnenator.